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Suns' giving pays off for Lexington

July 15, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Lexington Legends were like casual Hagerstown Suns fans on Wednesday.

In both cases, if something is given away for free, they go crazy.

On a night when mouse pads, floppy fingers and a drawing for a $10,000 trip were offered to Hagerstown's paying customers, the Suns handed out some extra outs to the Legends, which they thankfully used to bulldoze to a 14-8 victory.

Two two-out walks by starter Juan Serrato and a fielding error set up Ervin Alcantara's grand slam in Lexington's five-run fourth inning. Then, after the Suns rallied back, a walk and a hit batsman by reliever Chris George ignited a six-run outburst in the fifth as the Legends jumped out to a commanding 11-4 lead.

"We swung the bats well, but the pitching couldn't hold the game close," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "There have been too many free passes. We've been talking and talking to (the pitchers) about all the walks. We just can't seem to get consistent."

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Lexington (10-9, 47-41) used its extra hacks to its advantage as the Legends had seven doubles and the grand slam to account for eight of their 16 hits.

"That means they aren't getting the ball down and are pitching from behind in the count a lot of the time," Ramsey said.

"They get themselves into counts where they have to throw fastballs and they deliver them and get whacked," Ramsey added. "A good-hitting team will do that. That has been a problem, but there are a lot of factors coming into (why the Suns have been losing)."

Serrato navigated through the first three innings without giving up a run before the bottom fell out.

Third baseman Derek Barrows misplayed Brock Koman's leadoff grounder to crack the door open for Lexington. Then, after the Legends were retired, Serrato got wild and walked Osvaldo Fernando and Edwin Maysonet to load the bases, which were promptly unloaded by Alcantara's blast. Beau Hearod followed with a double and scored on Scott Robinson's single for the 5-0 lead.

Hagerstown (7-12, 35-50) attempted to make a game of it with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth. Jesse Schmidt and Jonathan Armitage each singled in runs and Pat Dobson's grounder added another off Lexington starter Rory Shortell. The Suns got the fourth run when Armitage was picked off when Shortell faked a pickoff to third and threw to first, but it was muffed when Maysonet dropped a throw in the rundown to allow Columbus to come in from third.

It all crashed for Hagerstown in the fifth as George hit German Melendez and later walked Maysonet to set up two-run doubles by Fernando and Hearod to highlight the six-run inning.

"That shutdown inning was key again," Ramsey said. "We were down 5-0 and got back to within 5-4 and (snap of the fingers) we're down 11-4. It's tough to keep coming back from that."

Alcantara added a two-run double in the sixth to finish with six RBI and Brock Koman added an RBI double in the seventh off Travis Nesmith to build a 11-4 lead.

After Jonathan Beltre (4-2) came on in the fifth to shut Hagerstown down for three innings, the Suns scored four cosmetic runs off Mike Collar in the last two innings. Schmidt had an RBI double and Armitage added a run-scoring single in the eighth and Brent Swanson homered in the ninth to tighten the outcome.

"Just when you think we are going to get a streak going, we take a step back," Ramsey said. "We still have 51 games left in the season and we still have a chance to do something good here in the second half, but we are starting to run out of time."

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